Welcome findings from Bag it or bin it? report From Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood

Last week the London Assembly Environment Committee completed its investigation into the management of London’s household food waste and published its report Bag it or bin it? Commenting on the findings, Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, said:

“It’s hugely welcome to see a dedicated investigation into household food waste recycling and an exploration of the steps the Mayor of London, local authorities and central government should be taking to improve recycling rates. I have been saying for some time that despite increases in recycling rates, the UK has further to go in reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill and it is only through a joined-up approach that we will achieve this – and the report echoes my views here.

“One of the report’s recommendations to increase food waste recycling that is particularly welcome is that the Mayor should join local councils in the effort to secure additional resources from government to develop separate food and organic waste collection services. The report also states that the Mayor should work with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and London councils to introduce mechanisms for a consistent, London-wide approach to communication about food waste. It is this collaboration and consistency of messaging that we at ReFood have been calling for. This is very much a step in the right direction but I would like to go further and see a national waste policy reflecting this.

“It is only through a national strategy that we will reach recycling targets and reap the financial benefit. If we were to achieve zero food waste to landfill nationwide, in 2020 we could generate over 1.1tW of energy, 27 million fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, return over 1.3 million tonnes of nutrient-rich fertiliser to farmland and save the public sector over £3.7 billion.

“There is one recommendation within the report that I don’t agree with, however, and this is the call for government to press for EU regulations to be changed to allow anaerobic digestion (AD) of sewage sludge and organic waste alongside each other. The issue with this, is that currently at ReFood we are able to close the recycling loop as the end product of AD from food waste is a nutrient-rich fertiliser which farmers can use to treat crops.  If co-treatment was allowed, then we believe the opportunities for using the valuable recovered nutrients as a fertiliser for growing new food products would be destroyed through the association with human waste and sewage.  The EU regulation places the safety of the food chain as an obvious priority and this must be maintained.”